All Secrets Sleep in Winter Clothes – by enlightenedkitty
Rating: Acceptable +
The Basics: Classic Era (compliant only up to OoTP), Action/Romance, Harry/Draco, 100k
Warnings: Implied Slash, Violence
Reading this fic, I thought I was going to give it the next rating up – but as I sat down to write the review (having just finished the story 5 minutes ago) I suddenly could not remember anything about the fic. I couldn’t remember what the premise was in the beginning, and I couldn’t remember how the romance started, or even if I found the romance believable. All I could remember was Harry’s plot and the action/war scenes, because that’s what the last 10 chapters or so focused on. In this story, I found Harry’s scenes and Harry’s story more compelling, MUCH more compelling, than Snape and Hermione’s relationship or their part in the action plot. Given that this was supposed to be an SSHG fic, this is pretty shocking – so I felt that a lower rating was warranted.
So, after skimming back through the fic I just finished reading, here are my thoughts.
Hermione, an Auror, returns to Hogwarts with an unusual mission – protect Professor Severus Snape. She is given the temporary post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and is soon swept up in a war plot with Snape, Harry, and Draco as main players.
The root of this fic’s problem is really lack of planning and focus. You can tell from the author’s notes that the author was riddled with self-doubt and insecurities as she was writing, and it really reflects in the overall quality. I think if she would have known she was going to write 38 chapters, she would have built the romance to at least chapter 30 or before acknowledgement and consummation. Instead the tension-bubble of the romance bursts halfway through the story, the fic wanders around resolving the war plot and ‘tragic misunderstandings’ to string out the romance. That’s why I became enthralled with Harry’s plot – his major tensions were not resolved and became the focus of the story for the latter half, while Snape and Hermione basically twiddle their thumbs. No wonder I couldn’t remember what their plotline was!
Another example of the lack of focus – this fic was written after GoF, and OoTP comes out in the middle of the fic (the author talks about it in her notes.) There is a the CLEAR line that stands out sharply between GoF and OoTP. The fic begins completely Hogwarts-y and Dumbledore-y, full of Classic Era goodness, but suddenly lurches into a full on Order of the Phoenix advanced war plot halfway through. Seriously, in ONE chapter, Sirius’ death is addressed, Grimmauld Place is introduced, the Prophecy is mentioned, and the entire Order descends into the plot. What? I understand wanting to include the new elements and being excited about the new book, but it was very jarring.
The bottom line: This starts out as a decent Snape/Hermione romance, but the romance resolves far too quickly and fades into the background as the (wandering, average) war plot takes over. Harry’s storyline, however, is fabulously compelling and should have been a stand alone story. Read it if you love Dark!Harry fics, war plots, AND Snape/Hermione; skip it if you are looking for an epic-length SSHG.